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Parks & Blvds.

One of three Santa Fe Trail Markers is located in the park island on Gillham Road south of 38th Street.

Sante Fe Marker Historic & Dedicatory Monuments of Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri, Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners February, 1987

Locations — 27th & Topping—38th Street & Gillham Road —South of Liberty Memorial Main Entrance

Designers —John Van Brunt, Kansas City Architect and Maude Miles, art teacher in Kansas City school System

Dedicated —1906 (Miles)—1922 (Van Brunt)


Height – 3 feet
Length – 3 feet to 4 ½ feet
Width – 2 ½ feet to 3 ½ feet
Rose granite with bronze plaques

The Santa Fe Trail, one–time highway to the West and Southwest, was first used commercially in 1804, freighting goods to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Three distinct trails wound their way through the Kansas City area. The first highway across the country was the original Santa Fe Trial which started at Fort Osage, meandered to Independence, south for about 5 miles, then southwesterly to New Santa Fe (approximately 120th Street and State Line) where it crossed the state line.

The second road known as the Independence-Westport Road was used as a connecting link between the years 1837–1856. It followed the Rock Creek Road out of Independence, crossed the Big Blue River, climbed the hill to 27th and Topping Streets, then westward to Westport Road, know in those days as the "Road to California." In 1843 the trail branched west of State line, forming "The Oregon Trail."

1911 picture courtesy of the Parks, Recreation and Boulevards Department of Kansas City, Missouri.
Gillham Road north of 39th Street looking east 1911

Remanents of the Santa Fe Trail are north of the middle stone wall.

In 1856 the Trial shifted to the Landing along the Missouri River at what is now Grand Avenue. This road was known as the Pierre Roi Road. It went from 2nd Street and grand Avenue to 6th and Main and Grand streets, southwest to B roadway and Westport Road, to Wornall Road and 66th Street then west to State Line.

When the Santa Fe Railroad, which parallels this rail, reached Santa Fe, New Mexico on February 9, 1888, this old historic trail which had done service for three quarters of a century and more, was doomed, and it slowly faded from view.

A party of old residents who had freighted over the trial met on May 2, 1905 by invitation of the City of Kansas City, Board of Public Works. They toured the city and relocated the trail. Markers have been erected on park property where fragments of the original trail were found.